Archive for March, 2012

Why is the sky blue?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

I can hear the peepers singing outside tonight. This unseasonably warm weather is confusing nature and its inhabitants. People are running around like it’s summer. They will be disappointed when the temperatures drop into the 20s during the nights in the coming week.

It’s hard to believe it was 80 degrees today. This week last year we got pounded with a snowstorm that dumped about 18 inches. I remember it quite vividly because I had to give a friend a ride home from work. It seemed like winter was never going to let go. It held on like an iron fist. There wasn’t a hint of this weather until early May last year and even then the constant rain kept people waiting for summer.

As I sit here and listen to the peepers they sound incredibly happy. They’re singing so everyone around can share the joy. A stroll down the road shortly before dark reminded me of my childhood. I walked the same route many times when I was growing up. I usually had a fishing pole in hand and I was always in a hurry to get to one of my many fishing spots along the creek.

Although I didn’t mind having company now and then I really enjoyed being alone. I found it fascinating to sit and listen to the silence. How can you listen to silence you might ask. Well, I just had the ability that very few people possess. Silence to one person might not be the same to someone else.

Silence to me was hearing the squirrels chatter as they scurried up and down the pine trees on the banks above the water. Silence was listening to the ducks quacking as they landed on the wide areas of the brook. Silence was staring into the creek and seeing fish dart out from under logs as they chased the bait on the end of my line.

No matter where I’ve traveled since those days I still have the ability to enjoy the silence of nature. It wasn’t until many years later that I was presented with a question I had never thought about.

Although my philosophy class was at 4pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, I always enjoyed going. I never knew what to expect from day to day. No two days were the same just as no two people are the same. While there can be many similarities everyone and everything is different.

The silence I had grown so accustomed to hearing was never challenged until one of those afternoons when I was sitting in philosophy class. Then my mind was instantly jarred like getting rear-ended by a car at the red light.

“If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it does it make sound?”…………and there it was. The question to which there is no correct answer was posed by the professor.

In my mind it was still silent because when I used to go fishing although I could hear everything it was nature’s silence that kept bringing me back. The noises around me were a part of nature and I never viewed them as actual sound.

Of course the next hour was spent debating the topic. Some people went through every effort to defend their stances while others listened intently to the arguments being tossed back and forth. I was one who sat and listened. I’ve always been intrigued by the way people react differently to certain questions and situations.

The class I’m writing about took place 24 years ago, yet I remember it like I walked from my dorm to the lecture hall just last night. When class let out I went to the dining hall to meet my friends for dinner. We hung out and time quickly got away from us. I always took the low road back to the dorm which brought me past the pond on campus. The pond was unique because it was in the shape of the state of New York.

Just as I can hear the peepers outside tonight, I always heard the peepers when I walked past the pond. When I began hearing them every year I knew the semester was winding down. It was a good but sad feeling.

Since that day in philosophy class I’ve always wondered what the majority of people believe when they’re asked that same question. I’m pretty sure most people would say the tree makes noise when it falls. It probably all depends on the connection you have to your soul and its surroundings. It also might have something to do with whether or not you like to argue with other people. Some people say black if you say white……that’s just their nature.

As the peepers gained in numbers and the semester winded toward the end that year I fought like crazy to get good grades. I almost tried too hard for which I paid the price.

When I got to class for the final exam I felt prepared. I had studied everything we had covered during the semester. I felt confident I could easily answer any question about any philosopher.

After people got settled in the exam was handed out. To my surprise it was only one page. I was in the middle of the lecture hall and there were about a hundred students in the class. The exams were handed out from the first row to the last. I couldn’t help but notice when one of my classmates sitting in the front row got up and left before I even had my exam. He was good friends with a friend of mine. I figured an emergency came up and didn’t give it much more thought.

When I got the exam it was only one sentence in the middle of piece of paper with no lines on it. The sentence read, “Without using the scientific formula to explain it, why is the sky blue?”

I used the entire time to give the best answer I could. When I was done I was very satisfied. About three weeks later we got our grades in the mail. I was excited to see a C on my report card. I felt as if I had earned that C. I told my buddy I felt lucky to survive the class because I knew many people didn’t do that well. That’s when my buddy told me his buddy (the guy that left early) received an A on his exam and I found out why he got out of his seat so quickly.

His response to the question was, “Why not?”

I’m pretty sure he got an A because he was the only one of the hundred people who decided to go out on a limb and challenge the question. He stood his ground and put down exactly what came to his mind. He showed no fear. Most people would have been afraid of getting an F.

I learned a lesson from that simple “Why not” answer. I realized that you have to challenge other people as well as yourself. If you believe in something you have to go full force without any fear and face the outcome when it’s over.

I’ve replayed that scene many times over the last 24 years and it still amazes me. I witnessed a similar situation a few years after I graduated from college. We were going through a computer conversion at work and an older man who was a great worker got up at lunchtime one day and said to the boss, “I’m going home.”

The boss replied, “Oh, are you going to go grab some lunch?”

Without raising an eyebrow he politely looked at the boss and without any emotion¬† said, “Nope, I’m going home for good. I’ve had enough. I won’t be coming back.”

With that he walked out the door and never returned. He didn’t have a new job or any employment lined up. He knew he was at the end of his rope and decided it was time to do something new. He challenged himself to get away from the thing that dragged him down the most.

I’ve learned to value people like him and the guy in my philosophy class. We can all learn from people like them. When we know it’s time for change we have to move forward in pursuit of whatever will bring us to a better place both spiritually and mentally. Some of us are thrown into the ring of fire unexpectedly and we rise out of the ashes to heights we never imagined. Those of us who wait for the right moment just have to find out where we want to go and take the leap of faith.

Are you a frog who sits in the sun on a log or are you the tiny frog who leaps as far as he can to get to the next lily pad, which will help him to get to the water on the other side of the damn?

Anything is Possible

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I can’t wait to get back to the orthopedic surgeon. Since the cortisone shot a few weeks ago I haven’t noticed any improvement. I think the first few days I might have been a victim of wishful thinking. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to sleep for more than three hours. It seems like every night I’m up and wandering around the house between 2-4. The throbbing pain in the top of my shoulder has now found a home in the top of my arm. Hopefully next Tuesday I’ll get sent to have an MRI done on it. Being an active person, this injury has zapped the life out of me because I can’t do the things I like to do. While I’m not completely limited, I’ve been cut off from the things that bring me the most joy and happiness. I know the road to recovery will be long and hard but there’s nothing I can’t handle. I’m a fighter as well as a survivor.

I went for a walk with a good buddy yesterday. He was remodeling his house on Lake George when I arrived. I would have liked to sit on his dock and watch the sun go down but he wanted to walk through the woods.

We talked back and forth as we gained elevation. With it being so warm I could feel the beads of sweat trickling down my forehead, onto my cheek and falling into the leaves. When we stopped to rest I could see the lake down below. It’s too early to be swamped with boats, so it was a rather peaceful sight. The water was calm and most of the gigantic summer homes looked abandoned from a distance.

We covered a lot of area before darkness consumed the sky. When we got back to his house I hopped in my truck and headed home. I still had a few things to do to get ready for my tax appointment today.

I made the tax appointment over a month ago. I couldn’t wait to get it behind me. It took about five minutes before I realized I shouldn’t have tried taking the easy way out. I went to the senior center to have them done because it wouldn’t cost anything. I figured I would save a good chunk of change if I didn’t have to pay the accountant like I did the last couple of years. Although I was told they could do my taxes there,¬† I quickly learned they couldn’t.

With all of the transactions and printing of the latest book it caused too many intricate problems they weren’t familiar with handling. I was irritated but realized it was my fault. I guess I’ll have to call the accountant before the end of the week since tax day will be here in less than a month.

I had to go to the pet store tonight to get some pain pills and food for my dog, Theo. It’s quite sad because every time I go I’m not sure if it will be the last time I’m there for him. His health has been fading. He laid on my feet last night. His tiny brown eyes had a tired, sad look in them. As I pet him his eyes slowly closed and I watched him breath as he drifted into sleep. I love that dog. I’ll never forget the day I came home and found him in my kitchen as a gift. He had a tendency to annoy people, but he never bothered me, even when he barked all night long.

I’ve never met anyone who knew much about his breed. He’s a Schipperke. A few weeks ago when the visual artist from Australia was here he saw Theo and said, “He’s a rat terrier. They were bred in Belgium and used on canal boats as watch dogs for rats and mice. Later on they became a Belgian royalty pet.” I was amazed. The man was brilliant. I’m still in awe of him and the time I spent with him was worth every minute.There weren’t many things he didn’t know something about.

He paid me an unbelievable compliment yesterday. In an email he told me I gave him what so many others couldn’t. He said it was my ability to articulate that stood out. The email was full of positive things. I felt great after I read it. Although I felt insignificant while I was around him, I can see through our correspondence that I made an impression on him as well.

I’m headed to New Hampshire this weekend. I’m looking forward to the quiet and peaceful ride through the Green Mountains of Vermont. I’ll be alone without any outside interference. I’ve made a habit of riding in the car without any noise. The silence can be almost deafening at times but exhilarating.

The conference I’m going to is right on the edge of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I would imagine that there’s still snow on the larger peaks and I’m looking forward to some fantastic scenery.

There are no deep thoughts rambling around inside my head tonight. I’ll have to come back at another time when I’m ready to tackle something that strikes a chord.

There’s one thing I started saying this week every day on the way back and forth to work. I also say it when I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep at night.

Anything is possible

I’ve already done things that others might have thought were impossible. I’ve dreamed dreams and I’ve accomplished them. I’ve set goals and followed the necessary steps to make them a reality.

Right now I must keep reminding myself that Anything is possible.

I have a few ideas I would like to explore. These ideas will require me to step out of my comfort zone and take a chance. I have to dot all of my i’s and cross all of my t’s but I must take chances. Hopefully I’ll find a way to do this in the months and years ahead.

I can clearly see the path I must follow. It’s a matter of putting on my hiking shoes and heading into the unknown forest to explore a much different place than where I’ve ever been.

Thankful: The Journey is the Reward

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The weekend was absolutely incredible. It was unbelievably refreshing to be around Alex Kershaw, the visual artist from Australia. It’s not often that I feel inferior to someone, but his intelligence was a bit overwhelming at times. I’ve also never met someone as open minded as him. His assistant Chris was very similar, although he was much younger. It was an experience that I will never forget.

As we walked up the mountain my mind was quiet. I brought up the rear. My friend Doug walked next to me while Alex, Chris and my friend Steve led the way. We took turns talking and each of us had a little quiet time as well.

For some unknown reason I found my thoughts rather quiet when I wasn’t participating in the conversation. My mind was calm at the center. I enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoyed the beautiful weather. A slight breeze brushed over my face as I could hear a few ravens in the background. Although I was with four other people it was extremely peaceful. I had no expectations, so nothing caught me off guard.

Well, nothing caught me off guard until I sat on “The Rock.” The Rock is one of my favorite places in the southern Adirondacks. It’s a place I’ve gone since I was a teenager to rest my back and collect my thoughts. It’s a place where I was introduced to hunting. I could sit on The Rock and all of my thoughts would gently seep out of my head and drift into the sky above. The wind would take the thoughts and carry them over the mountains I could see in the distance. I was as free as a bird. When I was there I felt like I was part of the landscape.

Then Alex stood in front of me and I heard his voice, “Todd’s Story: Scene 3, Take 1.”

I sat comfortably on The Rock and looked slightly downward and to the left of the camera as I listened to Alex pose his first question. “Okay, tell me a little about the things you referred to in your second book about your divorce.”

I knew what he was referring to which made it easy for me to look into the camera and explain some of the landscape which I explained in the book. He gently nodded his head and smiled as I continued on. Being on camera was rather easy. It reminded me of writing. Although I knew what he wanted, the question caught me off guard. The question brought me into a place I didn’t expect to go and I was quite happy to go there.

I thought back on my marriage. Many people like to say negative things, but I try to dismiss the negativity that surrounds divorces and break-ups because there are so many positive things we can take with us after things fall apart.

I’ve heard many people wish bad things on their former partners and this makes me question their character. It also makes me question their emotional stability and whether or not they have moved on. At first we probably all wish bad things upon the person who dashes our hopes and dreams. It’s only common nature to do that. As time goes on we have to learn to let those things go and learn from the past.

I’ll be the first to tell you I probably made a few too many mistakes along the way, but they are mistakes I’ve learned from. I loved my wife and as I walked out of the woods that day I realized that I gained a lot from the relationship. She was a good friend. I also realized the circle had completed itself. I used to think about her every day. Shortly after getting divorced I remember asking my friends and family if I would ever stop thinking about her every single day. They ensured me that it would gradually get better. I was unsure, but listened to them. It took a long time, but eventually the agonizing thoughts were gone.

Now, if I think about her I just hope that she learned as much as me and that she has grown as much spiritually as I have. I’m in a much better place now. It’s not because she’s gone, but more because of the different route that my life took when it was time to stroll down an unexpected path that appeared in front of me.

I have many people to thank right now for everything I’ve accomplished the last few years. As sad as it might sound she deserves a lot of thanks. She motivated me to do the things that brought me internal peace. I hadn’t written in years until the events unfolded that November. I truly forgot how much I enjoyed sitting down like this and writing about things on my mind. It brings me more satisfaction than almost anything else in the world.

I also find it amazing how I used to shoot my bow every day of the year for hours on end. I haven’t shot it in over 6 months, not even one arrow. Of course most of that is because of the shoulder problems I’ve encountered, but I also don’t feel like I need to launch hundreds of arrows. I don’t miss shooting, I just miss being able to shoot. At this point I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to shoot again. I guess time will give me that answer. Right now I would just like to be able to sleep more than four hours without waking up with throbbing pain in my shoulder and arm. I know it could always be worse so I sit back and try not to complain.

I’m up for a new project. In the coming months I’ll have to start setting goals and set out to accomplish them. I feel fortunate that I have the ability to finish tasks once I start them.

Last weekend brought me to place I’ve never been, as well as bringing me back to places I once was. When it was all said and done it reminded me of something that was once spotted on an old, old gravestone in this area by one of my friends.

Under the person’s name and date of birth/date of death it read, “Where you are I once was and where I am you will soon be.”

I think that puts life in perspective. We have to do the things we enjoy and learn from each and every thing that happens to us. We might encounter some really tough obstacles. We have to push forward, take the blows on the chin and try our best to stay afloat. Once a ship starts sinking there’s no saving it until it hits the bottom. Keep your sails high and let the waves slap against your face and don’t forget that in the end the journey will be your reward.

On the Edge

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

A few weeks ago I got home around 10 o’clock on a Friday night. Since I had to get on the road first thing the next morning to attend a show I quickly looked at my email to make sure no last minute changes had taken place.

When I glanced at the emails I found one that seemed odd. I didn’t recognize the sender’s name and the title of the email was……..I guess…….a little strange. I didn’t want to open it up and have a virus attack the computer so I decided to wait until the next morning. As I laid in bed I couldn’t get it out of my head. Something told me I should open it. Eventually I fell asleep.

When morning came I slowly rolled over to hit the nagging alarm clock. Five o’clock was coming a little too early for a weekend. After I turned it off I picked my phone up and went into my email. I clicked on it and opened it up.

What I found was simply amazing. At first I thought it was a bogus letter that you receive from someone overseas who has a big treasure you have to claim. As I read I saw that this person was specifically speaking to me.

She started off by telling me about her mother’s situation and how she couldn’t handle watching her mother die. She had returned to her mom’s home to be there when she died. At first she couldn’t bear the sight, but after a short discussion with the hospice people she knew she had to dig deep, find strength and cherish the last few days of her mother’s life.

In the evening she read “The Shack” and found a quote that I once wrote about which reads, “Sadness is the wall between two gardens.”

After she read the quote she decided to google the meaning of it the next day. When she googled the meaning my blog came up. She went there and read what I had written.

She told me how she could relate to everything I said. In the last sentence she simply thanked me for making a difference in her life. I sat there in awe after I read the last sentence. I didn’t know this woman from any other person walking down the street. I didn’t know if she was 21 or 71. I didn’t know if she was from the United States or Europe. All I knew is that she somehow found her way to my site.

After I showered and got on the road I took in the surroundings. It was a bright sunny day and fairly warm for late winter. I’m not sure but I think I could see hints of an early spring. My thoughts kept dashing back to the email. In a paragraph this woman told me I had made a difference in her life. In some ways I felt like the luckiest man alive. Although I know I’ve touched other souls this one was just different.

Now, a few weeks later, after a few email exchanges I find it even more amazing how different things in my life and hers have striking similarities. She wrote something to me about how spirits find a way to connect and for some reason I have to agree with her.

After I received that email other strange things started happening. Within a week I received three emails from random people which were very much like that one.

The most intriguing one came from a visual artist who is from Australia, but he’s here in the United States working on a project. He told me he googled a few things while doing research and my name appeared so he sought me out. He sent me his website to see some of the work he has done and I find it amazing. When he’s done with this project it will be featured in different art galleries across the world.

I’ve been told many times that we make our own luck. I’m not sure if I made my own luck with everything that’s going on but I do feel pretty good that people found me when they were searching for answers to specific questions.

I’ll be spending the next three days with the visual artist/film director from Australia. I can’t wait to spend time with someone from another country. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with people from South America over the last few years, but this will be the first time I’ve been able to meet with someone from down under. I’m sure it will be an eye-opening experience.

Life keeps dropping things in my lap. I’m pretty sure I’m on the edge of something that remains hidden right now. I’ve been getting the same feeling I get when I hunt. As one day leads into the next and I begin seeing a lot of sign or a few more animals than normal I can always feel it in my gut that I’m getting close. Then, more times than not, I take a deer within the next few days.

All of the unique emails recently give me the same feeling. I’m not sure what’s coming, but there’s definitely something waiting to be found. I’ll welcome it when it presents itself.